Volunteers from local churches are making an impact in Waco ISD schools.
STARS Book Clubs is here to help students read at grade level and improve their test scores but the program also helps gain confidence in their reading skills and bring more excitement to pick up a book. They are taking 30 minutes out of their day and reading with kids in second through fifth grade.
Mike Mellina and Aiden are one volunteer-student duo that met for the first time on Wednesday and became fast friends. They read Dr. Seuss, learned phonics and even a little bit of math as they counted the feet on the creatures inside the book.
"He smiles all the time he's happy he's glad that you're doing it," Mellina said.
Mellina is a retiree and is happy to spend his spare time helping out the kids.
"When I left the cafeteria all these other kids were going, 'I read in book club, I read in book club, I read in the book club,'" said Mellina. "I thought woah, this is a pretty good deal. So I'm glad to be a part of it, I'm glad I put my name down, I'm glad I raised my hand."
STAR Book Clubs is all about building relationships while improving a child's confidence. This program is currently in 11 schools and helping more than 1,000 students.
This program has been up and running for a few weeks, but Karmen Logan, the principal of Alta Vista Elementary, has already noticed a difference.
"The kids are really excited," Logan said. "When I walk through the cafeteria all the kids are like 'I brought my book club form today.'"
Michael Jeter is the operations director for the STARS Mentoring Project. He said he does this for the kids and loves seeing them grow.
The scores at the end of the day are proof that it's working.
"With the reading scores, we've seen campuses where we've done this with the majority of second to fifth graders and the students have grown in reading passing rates more than any other elementary schools in Waco," Jeter said.
With the growing rate of mentors and students in the program, they're excited to see the growth continue.
For more information on STARS and details about volunteering, click here.
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